Little men running for office

John McCain

I am not buying the “blame the media for John McCain” theory of why hardline Conservatives couldn’t get the candidate they wanted. But there is a lot of sense in this:

What a bizarre coincidence that a few years after the most draconian campaign-finance laws were imposed via McCain-Feingold, our two front-runners happen to be the media’s picks! It’s uncanny — almost as if by design! (Can I stop now, or do you people get sarcasm?)

By prohibiting speech by anyone else, the campaign-finance laws have vastly magnified the power of the media — which, by the way, are wholly exempt from speech restrictions under campaign-finance laws. The New York Times doesn’t have to buy ad time to promote a politician; it just has to call McCain a “maverick” 1 billion times a year.

The whole thing is worth a read if you think the campaign process is broken. And, yes, McCain deserves a lot of the blame for the brokenness, though he’s had a lot of help before and after breaking it. I’m still not buying the “it’s his reward for McCain-Feingold” theory, though.

I’ve had a couple of people who not long ago told me that they were truly shocked that McCain was even in the running let alone on the verge of getting the nomination, that they thought he was out of it a year ago. More recently these same individuals, disgusted with McCain, told me, in effect, “Yeah, big surprise. Who didn’t see THAT coming?”

Well, they didn’t, first of all. They had already told me they didn’t. But now they’re running around like they’re Cassandra and no one listened to their prophecy of doom.

On the other hand, I personally have thought all along that McCain was likely to be in the running down to the wire, mostly because I couldn’t believe that Giuliani or Romney were all that electable and I didn’t know who was going to challenge him. (This was from back before Fred Thompson was in, but, then, he was never really in at all, was he?)

Like today, yesterday I didn’t think he’d be viable because he was all that great but because I just didn’t know who was going to be around to challenge him. I still don’t.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to vote Democrat, though. And I’m not abstaining, because I did that in 1996 and am still disappointed in myself for it.

UPDATE: I clarified my wording in the second-to-last paragraph.

Original wording:

Like today, yesterday I didn’t think he’d be viable because he was all that great. I just didn’t know who was going to be around to challenge him. I still don’t.


  1. Press Release Video: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: BOB DWYER-508-930-5530 CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE 17 February 2008 NEW HAMPSHIRE PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY RECOUNT IS BEING CONTESTED and APPEALED CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Albert Howard, the Republican Presidential candidate who ordered a statewide recount in New Hampshire which was completed Monday, February 11th, filed an appeal to that recount with New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner’s office on Friday, the 15th. In his Petition, Mr. Howard has requested, ‘That the Ballot Law Commission and the Secretary of State’s office disclaim any opinion on the accuracy of the Presidential primary election AND the statewide Republican recount because checks and balances to maintain the integrity of the ballots and the total counts were either not followed, or not in place.’ The first level of appeal in New Hampshire is with the state ‘Ballot Law Commission’, which usually deals with matters of contested ballots. ‘Albert is determined to get a full hearing either at this Commission, or at a Federal Court’ states Vickie Karp, National Chair of the Coalition for Visible Ballots. ‘He is one of the most committed patriots I’ve ever met.’ Mr. Howard was inspired to call for a recount when, on Primary night in New Hampshire, January 8th, he watched on C-SPAN his vote totals seemingly disappear where the Diebold Optical Scan machines were being used to tabulate votes. Through donations from supporters Mr. Howard was able to raise $55,000 necessary to pay for a statewide recount of New Hampshire’s 100% paper ballots. The problem appears to be that 81% of those paper ballots were counted by Diebold optical scan counters. A number of violations were cited in his appeal which cast doubt on the integrity of New Hampshire’s election process. Mr. Howard states: ‘…discrepancies shown between the results of those ballots counted by hand versus those counted by Diebold optical scan counters…, together with violations of HAVA requirements, indicate a high risk and opportunity for manipulation of ballots and vote totals, thereby invalidating the results of both the Primary election and the recount.’ (HAVA is the Help America Vote Act of 2002.) In some cases, machines malfunctioned, and these machine failures were improperly handled by election workers and the private company providing the voting machines manufactured by Diebold possibly altering the outcome of the election. For example, town clerks told Dori Smith, a reporter from Connecticut, that memory cards were switched out in some towns by LHS employees, which is contrary to state election laws. (LHS Associates is the vendor responsible for the optical scan machines.) In Manchester, three machines had to be replaced on Election Day, and one machine was reported to be ‘…taking ballots but counter not incrementing.’ In Barnstead, the problem was ‘Ballots rejecting a lot, even during test.’ Apparently, the high error rate for the Diebold Optical Scanner is well-known. In a recent test at the University of Connecticut, the Diebold Precinct-Based Optical Scan Accuvote 1.94w system (AV OS) demonstrated a failure rate of roughly 3.4%. Diebold itself issued a Product Advisory Note about this machine on January 25, 2008, too late for election officials in New Hampshire to be forewarned. In addition to problems with the voting machines, the post-election chain of custody of the ballots and machines was poorly monitored. In some cases, the location of the memory cards, which are essentially electronic ballot boxes, was unknown after the election. Some ballots delivered for the recount arrived in illegal cardboard boxes with slits in the sides.Some boxes of ballots were not properly sealed. Some came with no tape at all, making it impossible to verify that they had not been tampered with. Other ballots arrived in bundles wrapped in newspaper or brown paper. Sometimes ballot boxes were left overnight in an unsecured room instead of in the ‘ballot vault.’ Much of this was documented on video tape by Bev Harris, Founder and Director of non-profit election watchdog group Black Box Voting, who spent many days in Concord monitoring the recount. Furthermore, Mr. Howard states, ‘On many days of the recount, ballots were delivered after the recount had ended for the day, after dark, when most of the employees were gone from the building, and their delivery was not witnessed by any member of the public or citizen monitors. These boxes at times were left out overnight in large insecure rooms.’ Mr. Howard proposes a number of solutions to these problems in his Petition, starting with the requirement that election officials abide by the laws and follow all applicable procedures already in place to ensure the integrity of elections. In addition, he advocates that cameras be set up filming the ballot boxes at all times and broadcasting live over the internet for citizens to oversee. American citizens have not only the Constitutional right to vote, but also the Constitutional right to have their vote counted. The use of electronic machines instead of paper ballots makes this much more difficult, especially when the machines break down, malfunction or are possibly tampered with in some way that cannot be easily identified. In addition, it appears that much greater care needs to be taken in regard to the ‘physical chain of custody’ of either electronic or paper ballots to ensure the integrity of our elections. The problems in New Hampshire are, unfortunately, not unique. Similar problems have been reported all over the country in recent elections. Albert Howard’s Petition may prove to be an important step in the direction of ensuring honest, transparent elections in the future. You can view the petition at and more information on his website:

  2. I have a three simple observations: 1) It seems to me that federalism is dead. Far too large a percentage of the people simply thing that government owes them a living. Get ready for ‘progressive’/disastrous leadership until this fantasy is gone. I don’t think it’s just a problem in the USA. Voter ignorance about economics => bad government. 2) McCain is a likeable guy (well, I like him) and an easy, feel good choice. Torture bad, immigration good, right? Consequences, schmonsequences. 3) The media basically runs most peoples’ lives. So many people are glued to the TV like zombies (witness the popularity of idiotic reality shows) and will believe what they are fed, or like some people I know, are addicted to news in all its forms and have absolutely no idea how much of an agenda news agencies have. Sad to say that the minimalistic approach to government which I think is the most direct way to liberty and prosperity just isn’t popular any more. Media companies are run by radicals who just don’t get it, and the general population believe them. They will probably wake up after the next ‘Jimmy Carter’ is elected. At least, I hope so.

  3. The campaign process is broken, but not because of McCain-Feingold. Its not like the campaign process was all sweetness and light before the bill. Face it, a hard core conservative even if fully funded would have a hard time winning. Why? because the fringe elements have always had a hard time winning, be you hard core right or left. Personally I will reflexively vote against any hard core anything. The political system is not broken due to finance laws – its broken because it fails the basic premise of the United States. The US works because we set ground rules that everyone more or less agrees to follow because the ground rules tend to be relatively unbaised. Politics throws this all out of wack. Political races are virtually uncontested due to gerrymandering. The absolute lock on the system by the 2 big parties insures that only they can raise the level of funding to be completive. Even if you have enough funding, say you are a billionaire with a loose wallet, the rules are so stacked against you that no one in history (once the major parties were established) has ever won the presidency without a major party backing.

  4. Isn’t there a brand of conservativism which is by its very nature not ‘hard core’ though? I mean, the point of being ‘conservative’ is at its root to be careful about making changes to things which have worked well in the past, right? Hence my mention of ‘federalism’. Is it really ‘hard core’ to say that you want the country run as the supreme laws of the land (the constitution) say it should be? Doesn’t always voting for the center in effect just take you along for a ride in whichever direction society is going? Sometimes it feels to me like my positions are stationary and society is moving around me, making it seem like I’ve gone from being a moderate to something more ‘hard core’ without having altered my fundamental beliefs. It’s weird. Can’t argue with your last couple of paragraphs, James. The question is: what can be done about it?

  5. We’ve always had politics. What we’ve never had before is a class of rich, influential people who hate America and everything it stands for. Our free market economy is being used against us. Instead of inserting spies covertly, we are being bought and sold by foreign governments that are waging war on us from within. Instead of using their own propoganda orgaizations, they use Madison Ave. They’ve succeeded in dividing this country up into special interest groups and now they’re conquering us. It is remarkable how easily we are mislead and the degree of stupidity we are willing to put up with just to ‘fit in’ to one phony group or another. Seriously, how else do you explain the current state of our defense industry? It’s not that the solutions aren’t obvious. It’s that you are never offered a real solution. Instead they offer you a series of phony solutions hoping that you’ll take one, if not because it makes sense then because it is hated by another group that you hate. Ironically, as our politics become more polarized, the difference between our political parties becomes less and less, to the point they are virtually indistinguisable.